Vertical heterogeneity in predation pressure in a temperate forest canopy

Kathleen R. Aikens, Laura L. Timms, Christopher M. Buddle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The forest canopy offers a vertical gradient across which variation in predation pressure implies variation in refuge quality for arthropods. Direct and indirect experimental approaches were combined to assess whether canopy strata differ in ability to offer refuge to various arthropod groups. Vertical heterogeneity in impact of avian predators was quantified using exclosure cages in the understory, lower, mid, and upper canopy of a north-temperate deciduous forest near Montreal, Quebec. Bait trials were completed in the same strata to investigate the effects of invertebrate predators. Exclusion of birds yielded higher arthropod densities across all strata, although treatment effects were small for some taxa. Observed gradients in predation pressure were similar for both birds and invertebrate predators; the highest predation pressure was observed in the understory and decreased with height. Our findings support a view of the forest canopy that is heterogeneous with respect to arthropod refuge fromnatural enemies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere138
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Arthropods
  • Avian predation
  • Canopy
  • Predator exclusion
  • Refuge

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